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Did you know that there are 53 million friends and family members providing care for loved ones with advanced illness in the United States? That is 1 in 5 adults! There are almost 600,000 caregivers in Wisconsin alone.  Chances are good that you have been a caregiver, received care from a loved one, or that one or both of those roles are in your future — whether you anticipate it, or not.

On November 10, in celebration of National Caregivers Month, the La Crosse Public Library will welcome Ramie Liddle, co-author of Driving Miss Norma: An Inspirational Story About What Really Matters at the End of Life.  The virtual event* will highlight the unexpected caregiving journey Ramie and her husband took with her 90-year-old mother-in-law, Norma Bauerschmidt.  When Norma was diagnosed with uterine cancer, she was advised to undergo surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. But instead of confining herself to a hospital bed for what could be her last stay, Miss Norma — newly widowed after nearly seven decades of marriage — rose to her full height of five feet and told the doctor, “I’m ninety years old. I’m hitting the road.”

And so Miss Norma took off on an unforgettable around-the-country journey in a thirty-six-foot motor home with her retired son Tim, his wife Ramie, and their dog Ringo.  As this once timid woman says “yes” to living in the face of death, she tries regional foods for the first time, reaches for the clouds in a hot air balloon, and mounts up for a horseback ride. With each passing mile (and one educational visit to a cannabis dispensary), Miss Norma’s health improves and conversations that had once been taboo begin to unfold. Norma, Tim, and Ramie bond in ways they had never done before, and their definitions of home, family, and friendship expand. Stop by stop, state by state, they meet countless people from all walks of life — strangers who become fast friends and welcome them with kindness and open hearts.

Infused with this irrepressible nonagenarian’s wisdom, courage, and generous spirit, Driving Miss Norma is the charming, infectiously joyous chronicle of their experiences on the road. It portrays a transformative journey of living life on your own terms that shows us it is never too late to begin an adventure, inspire hope, or become a trailblazer.  Ramie’s authentic and inspirational storytelling style will welcome you along this amazing caregiving odyssey with Norma. There will be also be plenty of time for questions after the presentation. It is time to say “YES!” to living and come along for the ride!

* Note: If you would like to join us virtually via Zoom, please include your email address and indicate your preference to stream in the notes field.  An in-person viewing of this virtual event will also be held in the Main Hall of the La Crosse Public Library with a 50-person capacity.

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